Colterenzio Muller-Thurgau, 2009 Italy. Muller-Thur-what??

“Umm.. ex-squeeze me?”  The great Wayne and Garth get straight to the point.  Huh?  Muller?  Thurgau? 

So let’s start at the very beginning… a very good place to start, as Julie Andrews would say.  How the heck do you say this?  Well, to further confuse you, I’ve had two people in the business whose opinion I would trust pronounce it two different ways.  MULL-er Thur-gow and MEW-ler Turr-go.  The “u” is supposed to have an umlaut over it regardless, but I don’t know how to get my keyboard to do that.  My best guess would be that Mew-ler Turr-go is correct, if you were trying to be fancy about it, but that Mull-er is an acceptable Americanization that will not get you laughed at. 

Mew-ler grapes

 Here they is- cute little green grapes.  More about the actual grape- Muller is what I like to call a “test tube baby”- created in 1881 by a guy named Hermann Muller- who wanted the intensity and sharpness of Riesling, and an early ripening season.  Wikipedia says “…Although the resulting grape did not entirely attain these two qualities, it nonetheless became widely planted across many of the German wine-producing regions.”  Interesting!  I guess he just got lucky.  Must be nice.  Apparently many people think Muller is a cross between Riesling and Silvaner- but is in fact a cross between Riesling and “Madeline Royale”- which I never would have guessed was a grape.  Who would name a grape a person’s name?  Bizarre.  Anyhow, there you have it. 

Moving on, this Colterenzio Muller Thurgau has got to be one of my favorite whites that we’ve poured by the glass this year!  Now, to be fair- I am a total whore for unusual, offbeat, acidic white wines, and this is no exception.  It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but in my effort to make everyone in the world appreciate the exact same wines I do (kidding), I wanted to write about this wine.  It hails from a little region in northern Italy called Alto Adige (AHL-to Ah-deejay).  This part of Italy used to be part of Austria which makes it a very unique spot.  Even the bottle- and all the Colterenzio bottles- have a distinct look to them that differentiates them from other Italian wines. 

This is such a beautiful wine.  I love a white wine that really captures a degree of elegance and purity, and this one is just that.  It would likely go overlooked at one of our Saturday wine sales, especially if it were placed next to something much more “new world” in style.  It takes a bit if concentration to appreciate this wine, because it’s not very forthcoming with it’s presence.  Light notes of wild flowers reveal themselves, especially after the wine warms up just a touch.  Honeysuckle and white peach show up as well, and the palate is steely, quenching and refreshing with citrus and minerality.  Fantastic. 

This wine makes me want to be here:

 And based on looking at photos of the Alto Adige region, this is pretty much what it looks like.  Green grass, wildflowers, mountains, clean air… and Julie Andrews basking in all of it.  Grab a bottle of this wine for just $13 next time you’re at Cellar!  Which will be soon, I hope….

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Royal Chenin Blanc, 2009 South Africa

I said to myself- “Self?  What should I write about this week?”  How about the most underappreciated wine on our list, my Self answered.  Why yes, I replied.  That sounds good.

This wine has quietly been on our by the glass list for several months, and also hung out at all the wine sales, selling for a mere $9 a bottle- and yet, has gone unnoticed.  Why?  I wondered.  Because it’s from South Africa?  Because it’s so inexpensive that you think it couldn’t possibly be very good?  Because it’s Chenin Blanc and maybe you haven’t heard of Chenin Blanc?  Because the bottle design isn’t the greatest?  (Really, I love this wine, but the label makes it look like it belongs on a cruise ship).  All these forces combine against poor Royal.  It’s also been one of those wines that I periodically forget about- and then I revisit it and remember how awesome it is.

This wine is so vibrant, it’s aromas pretty much fly out of the glass- tropical fruits like pineapple, ruby red grapefruit, lime zest, guava, gooseberries (what is a gooseberry?  kind of like a fuzzy, tart little grape- see below), and a crisp, tangy finish with notes of green apple and honeysuckle.  Fresh, lean, crisp, breezy and charming!  It hints more towards the French Vouvray style of Chenin Blanc than anything else, meaning that it is not over-the-top with it’s fruit characteristic, instead just offering them up gracefully.  You really can’t go wrong with this wine- it’s an amazing value and a perfect end-of-summer sipper that will go nicely with a porch swing and a sunset.  Or a backyard and the smell of cut grass.  Or a dusty parking lot while that September sun beats down as you prepare to watch some Carolina football.  Okay, that was the last comparison- although I could very well go on!

a gooseberry

Suffice to say, you should grab a bottle or two of this before Summer is completely gone!  I’m gonna keep it short for this Friday morning, but stop in to Cellar any time for a quick taste to confirm everything I’ve just said, and then off you go!

Two Frenchies! Okay, Deux Frenchies!

Whatever, y’all- I don’t speak French.

I don’t write about French wine all that often.  Not because I don’t like it- in fact, I love it.  It’s just that when I truly LOVE a French wine, it is usually very- you guessed it- expensive!  Of course I could write a blog about amazing wines that I’ve been fortunate enough to try (usually at trade shows or on someone else’s dime) that you, dear average reader with student loan payments, probably cannot afford- but where’s the fun in that?  So that’s why it’s so exciting to me when I find great French wine that is reasonably priced!  So this week I bring you not one but TWO French reds that have colored me truly impressed!

First is the Domaine LaLaurie Marselan, 2007 Vin de Pays.  What on earth, you ask is MARSELAN?  This is the exciting part- Marselan is a true wine baby!  Not just a pretend baby that I like to imagine.  Marselan is a cross between Cabernet and Grenache!  How do they do it?  How do they make wine babies?  I’ve been told that you can literally “marry” grape vines- that is, they’ll grow together somehow… oh, I don’t know- someone told me that and I don’t really get how it works, but that person knew what they were talking about.  But was Marselan more of a test tube baby?  Created in a labratory?  Or did they just leave the Cabernet and Grenache together in a room with a disc full of Lionel Ritchie and lots of candles?  Who knows.

In any case, they did sumpin’ right with this one, because I LOVE this wine!  It has a nice bold nose of cigars, coffee, tobacco, vanilla, cloves, plums and a nice light oak.  It has a pretty finesse, along with that awesome acidic “grip” that I love in a wine.  I don’t know how else to describe it, but I love when a wine really grips the inside of your mouth <insert “that’s what she said” quote here>.

I could sip this one all evening, or enjoy it with food.  It’s pretty versatile- it would stand up to a a steak- maybe a grilled one with a spicy espresso-rub?  That would be nice.  Fall/Winter fare would be great too- roasted root veggies or roasted meats.  Perfect.  Speaking of Fall/Winter fare- IT’S SEPTEMBER!!!  We’re almost there!  The Summer is drawing to a close!  Woohoooooooo!  That might be a little too much enthusiasm for 9:00am on a Wednesday morning, but I guess that ‘s what happens when you taste wine before breakfast.  Oops!!

Okay, I’m getting a little wordy, so let’s move on to Frenchie number two!  Chateau le Breuil Renaissance, 2007 Medoc (which is in the Bordeaux region).  So yes, this is a Bordeaux blend.  This particular one is comprised of 60% Merlot and 40% Cab.  From my experience with our customers, people really WANT to like Bordeaux, they think they SHOULD like Bordeaux… but a lot of times they don’t.  And they feel guilty about it, like maybe they’re missing some crucial element of wine-enjoyment.  After all, wines from Bordeaux are some of the most expensive and sought after wines in the world, right?  So if you fall into that category, have no fear- I believe you will like this one.  It’s friendly, gentle, and pleasant.  Notes of leafy cedar, light stone fruit (ie cherries), a hint of something minty- maybe spearmint, and nice earth.  Despite it’s fairly earthy-crunchy exterior, this wine sips beautifully and has a very smooth, polished finish.

Okay, I’m going to show off my new iPhone app for a minute:  here are the wines, looking sophisticated and edgy:

The Domaie Lalaurie retails for $13, while the Breuil Renaissance comes in at $16. Currently Lalaurie is being poured by the glass, and come tomorrow (Thursday the 2nd) so will the Renaissance!  So that means you can stop by Cellar and ask for a taste any old time you want!  Can’t beat that!  Thanks for reading, happy drinking and HAPPY (almost) FALL!